There's rarely a dull moment at the MTV Video Music Awards. The very first VMA ceremony, televised in 1984, featured Madonna's iconic "Like A Virgin" performance, and the show really hasn't slowed down since then. The
stand out moments from the 2019 VMAs may not all be on par with classic Madonna, but they'll certainly be remembered. And there were bound to be some surprises with performers like Lizzo, Taylor Swift, Shawn Mendes, Camila Cabello, Lil Nas X, and Video Vanguard winner Missy Elliott on the docket.
Monday's ceremony marked the the VMAs debut of plenty of up-and-coming artists, as well as the return of lots of veterans. And the fact is, when you're bringing together artists of every genre
and trying to represent every major trend, there's bound to be some awkwardness along the way. On MTV, that awkwardness started with the channel's hour-long red carpet pre-show — always home to stilted conversations, wild outfits, and even a little bit of shade. But nothing can hold a candle to the show itself when it comes to searing images into the brains of fans. Every artist wants to give the performance people are talking about the next morning and that leads to some... extreme choices.
Here are the moments from this year's VMAs that we won't soon forget:
Zara Larsson Interviews J. Balvin & Bad Bunny
In the pre-show, pop-artist-turned-red-carpet-reporter Larsson chatted with artists J. Balvin and Bad Bunny, who were rocking cheetah hair and a Bane look, respectively. But in trying to highlight the popularity of Latinx artists in mainstream music and at the VMAs this year, Larsson's comments edged into cringe territory as she showed off her admittedly weak Spanish skills to the somewhat baffled nominees.
Kevin Jonas Gets Disrespected By The Countdown Clock
The Jonas Brothers are back together and back at the VMAs. Huge deal, right? Well, the countdown clock didn't get the memo about the love we're
excessively showing Kevin this time around. Rude.
H.E.R. Brings An Accessory With A VMAs Legacy
A VMAs nominee several times over, H.E.R. hit the red carpet wearing a fairly unusual variation on the ever popular animal print. She told Larsson that her plus one is named "Big Mama" and agreed with the red carpet host, who said she was having
a "Britney moment."
Sebastian Maniscalco Loses The Audience Almost Immediately
No one seemed to know why exactly standup comic Sebastian Maniscalco was hosting the VMAs in the first place, and his monologue quickly proved that he was out-of-step with his audience. After doing some material about the show's New Jersey home, Maniscalco poked fun at the idea of "safe spaces" and being "triggered," promising that anyone who was offended would be coddled offstage. Cue a nationwide eye roll.
Lizzo's Bootylicious Performance
It's Lizzo's world, and we're just living in it. But the best thing about the breakout artist is that she's all about sharing her positivity and self-love with the rest of us. "It's so hard to love yourself in a world that doesn't love you back, am I right?" she asked during her performance. Lizzo gave fans a medley of her hits "Truth Hurts" and "Good As Hell," supported by dancers of all body sizes, in front of a giant, inflatable ass. We never expected anything less.
Taylor Swift's "You Need To Calm Down" Squad Takes The Stage
Swift took the "Video for Good" award for her cameo-heavy clip for "You Need to Calm Down." But instead of accepting the award herself, the artist graciously stepped aside for friend and fellow musician Todrick Hall to take the mic and speak directly to any kids watching who might have felt as different and out of place as he once did. Hall was obviously representing a message that means so much to him, and it was very cool of Swift to relinquish the spotlight to the community she was hoping to celebrate in the first place.
Missy Elliott Takes Us On A Journey Through Her Career
Missy Elliott didn't have a thing to prove on that VMAs stage, but she went for it anyway, serving up a medley of her hits that reminded everyone just how deserving she is of the Video Vanguard Award.
Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello Get Close
Perhaps you haven't heard that frequent collaborators Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello are a couple. Well, they are, and they weren't going to let anyone walk away from the VMAs thinking otherwise. The performance of their single "Seniorita" was almost
tooooo intimate, but at least we all got a taste of what date night looks like.
John Travolta Pulls A John Travolta
For some reason, in this post-Adele Nazeem world, people are still inviting John Travolta to present. In this case, he tried to hand the Video of the Year award to
Drag Race star Jade Jolie, who he confused for the actual winner, Taylor Swift.
Miley Cyrus' Emotional Performance
Mere days after her split from Liam Hemsworth was made public, a solemn
Miley Cyrus took the stage to perform her wrenching new ballad about the breakup, "Slide Away." There couldn't have been a dry eye in the house.
Normani Killed Them With Choreography
Watching Normani break it down in the video for her new song "Motivation" may have had you wondering how much of that was actually
real. Surely they had to be cutaways, stand-ins, or even CGI?? But the former Fifth Harmony member's VMAs performance proved that it was all her. We're tired just watching.
J. Balvin & Bad Bunny Live In Your Phone
In the night's trippiest performance, J. Balvin and Bad Bunny basically created their own iPhone game, wearing oversize foam suits and flying around a cartoon world people by several inflatable friends.
Queen Latifah Spreads "U.N.I.T.Y."
The 2019 VMAs closed out with a tribute to New Jersey's impact hip-hop, featuring performances by Ice-T, Naughty by Nature, Wyclef Jean, Redman, Queen Latifah (who rode into the arena on a bike!!), and Fetty Wap. From "U.N.I.T.Y." to "Hip Hop Hooray" to "Trap Queen," some of the biggest hits to ever come from the state were covered, and the nostalgia was very real.